After five episodes, it looks like we’re finally done with this arc. While it has been filled with great character development for both Arc and Ariane, transforming the two into a pair of loveable characters, one specter has loomed over the entire story so far: rape as a plot device. From the bandit scene that opened the show to the whole elven sex-trafficking situation, it’s been used as the show’s go-to shorthand to demonstrate that the bad guys are, in fact, bad. And while topics such as rape and sex-trafficking can be explored through books, TV, and film, there needs to be more to it than that—especially as it is something that has traumatized so many people in the real world.
That’s not to say that Skeleton Knight in Another World is the worst example of this by a long shot. The constant threat of rape has been used to show the darkness of the world as well—juxtaposing how the world really is against Arc’s excitement at being able to live a fantasy RPG adventure like the games he has loved. Also, the anime earns some goodwill points with this episode by letting us revel in the catharsis of watching a rapist and sex trafficker be kicked in the balls repeatedly with a steel-toe boot, a moment that would make a great gif. That said, I for one am happy to be done with this aspect of the show for the foreseeable future.
With the elves rescued and the bad guy punished, the rest of the episode is all about setting up what’s next. As for our heroic pair, Ariane is loath to part with Arc. Her job is basically to help elves out whenever they’re in trouble; with Arc she has found a powerful ally. But more than that, she has found someone she can trust and rely on a personal level, even if he’s not an elf like she is. Arc, for his part, would like nothing more than to travel to the city of the elves with her. Of course, there’s one major problem with this: it’d be impractical to hide his face for the entire journey—and so he reveals it to her.
What’s interesting in this scene is that while she is shocked, it only takes Ariane seconds to conclude that he is cursed rather than an actual undead. Based on her world’s common knowledge (about the effects of healing magic on the undead, an undead’s aura, and Ponta’s acceptance of Arc), it’s basically obvious. This shows, once again, that, for all his power and in-game knowledge, Arc knows very little about the world he has found himself in. It is vital for him to find a companion who can help guide him—and Ariane fits the role perfectly. He has his weaknesses and she has hers but the way they complement each other fills in these gaps and makes them a great team.
But while Arc and Ariane plan their next moves, the rest of the kingdom is dealing with the unintended consequences of their little raid. Up until this point, the King has had plausible deniability when it comes to the elven sex trade. Now, with such a blatant attack, he can only assume that the elves have reached their breaking point. Worse still, such an attack hints that the elves found evidence implicating the marquis (which Arc does indeed have). Combined, this could threaten the international peace between humans and elves—which would be catastrophic for the kingdom on both a political level and a practical one. Not only would the other human nations put pressure on them but they would no longer be able to feed their population as well.
Making the situation even more complicated is the impending succession crisis. The king has three children. The second prince was clearly involved in the sex trade and is out to protect himself. The first prince, on the other hand, is eager to use the situation to destroy his brother and set himself up to claim the throne. The lone princess, on the other hand, is more concerned about keeping the peace between elves and humans for the future of her kingdom—though it’s clear she has her eyes on the throne as well.
All this adds some much needed context to the greater world—and showing us Arc and Ariane’s place in it. While they are simply following their own moral codes, their actions have the ability to destabilize nations. What looked to be a simple journey to find a way to remove Arc’s curse could easily snowball into something much greater going forward.
• Arc just preformed the most intimidating kabedon in history.
• Arc should have removed captured elves’ magic dampening collars before they took their pound of flesh.
• Honestly, I don’t think Ariane needed some noble excuse for why Arc was taking all the gold. She’d probably just see it as more karmic justice for the marquis regardless.
• Due to their extreme differences in size, anytime they want to make Ariane and Arc’s eyelines match, they move the camera creatively and use a low angle shot.
• Ponta is such a tease.
Skeleton Knight in Another World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.